Passion is contagious. And, passion is the emotion ingrained in Stickley furniture by its founders, its modern makers and distributors and the owners of Stickley furniture pieces. In the 21st century world of flat pack, big box furniture and disposability, passion has gone by the wayside for many household items and that makes the shared love of the arts and crafts movement that Stickley exemplifies the more attractive.
Saturday morning, June 5th, I treated myself to an hour and a half journey through the continuing legacy of Gustav Stickley and his brothers at the Stickley Furniture Road Show presented by Manderley Manor. The Stickley Corporate Historian, Mike Danial, explored the historic roots of the famous company. He talked about the method for identification of older pieces, construction techniques, and he shared many stories and anecdotes about items of furniture and individuals.
The passion all began with the five Stickley brothers, Gustav, Leopold, Albert, John George and Charles and their four separate businesses. They were the leading proponents of the arts and crafts movement in America. They emphasized as integral to their furniture the wood choices, proportion, elements of construction and design. Gustav Stickley’s commitment to his arts and crafts philosophy led him not only to furniture production by his trained craftsmen but into the realm of public education and promotion through various design and construction publications that widely influenced American and Canadian tastes after 1900.
The integrity, commitment and love for Stickley furniture allowed the company to survive the economic challenges of the Depression and war years bringing it a new owner ,”Mr Alfred Audi” who was equally inspired, to reinvigorate the company while continuing its fundamental original philosophy. Passion for Stickley furniture led Audi to regularly fill his vehicle with pieces to sell in his New York store until the day he took over ownership of the factory.
Can the human emotion of passion be carried into a material object like a chair? The Stickley Furniture Road Show held by Manderley Manor the home of Stickley Furniture in Toronto, convinced me it can. The passion of the original designers, the furniture makers, collectors and owners of old and new Stickley furniture translates into the wood and carries forward through the stories that these pieces tell and memories they hold.
Now that I’ve caught the Stickley bug, which piece will I mark with the passion of my family’s life and memories? Perhaps, the useful and beautiful 2010 Limited Collector’s Piece, Harvey Ellis Cabinet.
Thanks Mike for your time, humour and passion. My Stickley purchase will hold a larger place in my heart?